Dominion, Library of Virginia set to honor Franklin native

Published 1:41 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dominion Resources and the Library of Virginia will commemorate the leadership and accomplishments of eight outstanding African Americans during the third annual ‘Strong Men & Women in Virginia History’ awards program on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Richmond Marriott.

The event honors prominent African-Americans, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the commonwealth.

“Recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of these extraordinary honorees is a fitting way to celebrate Black History month,” said Daniel A. Weekly, vice president of Corporate Affairs-Dominion. “These men and women excelled despite numerous obstacles, and their influence has created a stronger, better community.”

Dominion Resources is the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.

“These 2015 Strong Men and Women are being recognized for their refusal to be defined by their circumstances,” added Dr. Sandra G. Treadway, librarian of Virginia. “Through education, the arts, sports, science and service to their country, these individuals have made important contributions that have enriched not only their lives but the lives of all of us.”

One of the honorees will be Franklin’s own Brigadier General Shelia R. Baxter, U.S. Army, Ret. – first African-American female brigadier general, Army Medical Service Corps.

Baxter excelled at basketball in Franklin, and when she played at Virginia State College (later University), she was its first female player to score 1,000 points over the course of her career.

In 1977, she earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. One of the few women to join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Virginia State, Baxter was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Medical Service Corps in 1978. She later received a master’s degree in health services administration from Webster University and also attended the Army War College.

Stationed around the country and overseas, Baxter was assigned posts of increasing responsibility in medical logistics, including a tour in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. Promoted to brigadier general in 2003, she was the first woman and the second African American to hold that rank in the Medical Service Corps.

In her final post, Baxter was commander of the Madigan Army Medical Center and the Western Regional Medical Command and was responsible for coordinating medical care and support for active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops in six states. The screening and health assessment program for returning troops implemented at Madigan during her tenure became a model for the Army.

Her decorations include the Distinguished Service Award.

Inspired by mentors who helped her achieve her goals, Baxter has made time throughout her career to help and advise young adults. After retiring in 2008, she earned a Divinity degree and continues to work with veterans as a chaplain.